29 August 2017

A flurry of outdoor action

A flurry of shopping does not sound like fun to me, oh no.  School is coming up, and with three of them now going in, I have my work cut out for me.  Truth be told, it's mostly the shoes that take up so much time.  Clothes are a more leisurely purchase, but my kids seem to go through shoes with a whirl and a bang.  They wake up and suddenly their shoes no longer fit - NONE of them.  Thank God for summer and sandals, but no such reprieve exists for school where shoes must be worn both inside and out.  

Last week we went to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).  I've been to the ROM myself before I had kids, but I never realized the treasure trove it would present for young children.  They just loved the exhibits, especially the Egyptian and biodiversity sections.  All those animals, and dinosaurs, and hands on activities!  The blue whale exhibit was among each child's favourites.  I think I will add a membership to the ROM to our Christmas list.  Such a perfect gift!

Prior to the ROM we had been studying ancient Egypt a little.  I use the term "studying" quite loosely.  Our studies have been more self-propelled than anything else.  M especially has been knee deep in pyramids, pharaohs, and hieroglyphics.  After a couple visits to the library and quite a few books later, we built a step pyramid out of sugar cubes and then M calculated the perimeter and area of the base of his.  (We haven't gotten around to volume yet, but it would be perfect for that!)  Later on this week, we will study the effects of the elements (hair dryer and water) on our pyramids. All this to say, our visit to the ROM was well-timed!

With the solar eclipse, there was quite an interest in astronomy last week.  NASA had a nice site set up to watch the eclipse, since we were not in the path of totality.  M made a projector so we could still check things out - we couldn't find glasses last minute.  There are actually several suns in that photo because I think we poked more than one hole in the aluminum square.  Oh well.  We got to see the moon eclipsing the sun without leaving our living room!  M even decorated his projector to show how much further the sun is from the earth than the moon.  He also added some dramatic solar flares.  Loved learning astronomy with him!  Our poor family and friends had to put up with him explaining things over and over.  He was just so into it.

Yesterday we went hiking on the forest trails at Riverwood Conservation.  It's not far from us, though we had to drive there.  The kids loved exploring and digging around for rocks on the paths.  Even baby loved the walking, and she did all of it by herself.  My back can't handle carrying her anymore.  S had found an acorn on the path and when we saw a squirrel sitting on a tree stump, she promptly threw him the acorn.  We then watched as he cautiously retrieved it and ate it up in front of us.  That was pretty cool.  Needless to say S was tickled pink!  That definitely made her day.

Last night I did some work on a blanket I am crocheting.  Blankets are the worst.  It feels like it will never end, or even more, that I am not making any progress.  Sometimes I don't even manage to finish one row in a sitting.  I know I have until Christmas to finish, but most days that feels like too little time!  To be honest, that is not the only thing I am working on.  Of course.  I have started another icon.  Actually I started it a little while ago, but I am recommencing work on it after a break.  My deadline is spring for this project, so it should manage to sort itself out as long as I don't get too carried away adding more projects.

The funny thing is, I've been told that once the kids start school I will have more time for those things.  I will only have baby with me after all.  I anticipate the reverse in fact!  Baby M is such a darling, but totally into everything.  She climbs, she's curious, she likes to touch and taste EVERYTHING.  I cannot leave her for longer than 3 minutes alone.  And for me to bring out paints... I can't imagine what kind of disaster would occur.  No, I think I will have less time, at least for painting anyhow.  But with that sweet little face and chubby hands close by, I doubt I'll mind it too much.

Wishing you a wonderful long weekend!

4 August 2017

Lazy summer days

I'm going to pretend I haven't been away from here for so long.  It just makes it easier to pick up the thread of blogging again.  :)

We spent the month of June in Lebanon.  It was a great trip!  And you'll have to take my word for it because I forgot to bring the camera.  :(  That was a sad moment - knowing that years from now I won't have anything to look back on to remember.  We are planning another trip, hopefully for next year.  And I sincerely hope that I will have the presence of mind to remember a camera.  But that is a long way from now...

I've been on a reading spree this past month or two.  I guess I go through dry patches where I don't read at all.  Then, just like monsoon season, the reading comes in torrents!  I am currently reading Dare to Discipline by Dr. James Dobson.  It certainly goes counter cultural to the parenting philosophy of our times.  I haven't made up my mind what I think of it, given that I'm just about halfway through.  Some of it makes sense, almost emphatically at times, but I then I have this niggling doubt at the back of my mind at others.  I am trying to keep an open mind until I finish.  I think part of the problem is that I've been really enjoying Dr. Laura Markham's style of parenting, at least from what I've been able to implement.  The gentler, "connecting" aspect appeals to me very much.  I will wait to compare the methods once I have a better understanding of Dobson's.

Last week we got a new piano.  My friends, I have been waiting for this moment for years.  I didn't think it would happen, certainly not while we lived in a condo, but it has come!  And yes, I am a mature adult, but right now I feel like running around the living room whooping! The older two kids and I take turns fighting over whose turn it is to play.  Very mature, as you can imagine.  I think I monopolize most of practice time, but you'd be surprised how tenacious they can be.   

In other news, baby M has figured out how to open the fridge.  Of course.  This morning she ran into the room where I was working repeating "wauta, wauta, wauta".  She was obviously trying to tell me something.  I went with her to the kitchen with a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Sure enough, she has managed to upset the milk jug on the bottom shelf and it was all over the floor.  That was lovely.  So I yelled at my very sweet and overly curious toddler, with her eager helpfulness and delicious cheeks.  How I wish I could relive that moment.  What a lost opportunity.

After mopping up the mess, it occurred to me that she was actually trying to be helpful by coming and telling me that there was "water" all over the floor.  I think I'm going to have to reorganize the fridge.  And if I'm being truly honest, I think I could start doing some pouring and sponging exercises with her.  She'd love it.  

Our summer has been somewhat disorganized as far as summers go.  The kids have swimming and soccer, but not much else.  Also, I've been very tired or even lazy to sit and work with them academically.  It doesn't help that the older ones are a reluctant to work on certain subjects.  This means there has been lots of Lego building, bike riding, and practical life activities going on.  :)  All is not lost, mind you.  J has learned the alphabet in cursive and is starting to read french books in cursive now, which has done wonders for her confidence.  M is working on perimeter and starting word problems.  Despite his aptitude in math, I've sorely neglected word problems for him.  S has forgotten some of her letters, so we are going back to the sandpaper letters for review.  'Tis to be expected since we took more than a month's break from them.  It doesn't sound shabby, but I envisioned things differently.  For example, I had wanted to do more art this summer.  That kind of fell by the wayside since I wasn't organized enough to even set up a rough outline.  I think my psychological bucket needs filling up.  Too much emptying and not enough filling does that to me, and then I'm good for nothing for a while.  :(

Of course that is not to say we haven't enjoyed the summer.  It's just an odd feeling on the whole to be largely flying by the seat of one's pants.  Which is not to say I'm a control freak; just that I like some degree of order in my life.  Ah well.  These seasons seem to come and go for me periodically, so I shan't worry too much.

I hope the summer has been good to you too!  

13 February 2017

Snow day

It is such fun to have a good snow at last!  We spent yesterday following church at grammie and grandpa's.  I must say getting to church was a feat in itself.  The morning the snow just poured down in thick, swirling flakes.  Pretty from a window seat, but not so much from a driver's seat.  Thankfully we made it there and back again without any incidents.  

The kids loved the snow.  Sledding, shovelling, jumping, and whatever else they could think of doing with that tons of white stuff all happened.  We haven't had a proper Canadian winter this year.  Too many gaps between snow falling and the inevitable melt two days later.  Soggy weather for winter.  They are hoping this snow sticks around.  

And as for me, I am just happy for another reason to get outside.  :)  With the fridge full from a weekend of cooking, I am looking forward to a bit of a break in the kitchen and perhaps a few projects alongside those necessary errands.

I just have to mention that M is really into Monopoly, as you can see.  The day isn't complete without a request for a "quick game".  We can't always say yes, but he is a happy camper when we do.

S is plugging away at a game above.  We lay a bunch of sandpaper letters out on the table or floor and then she has to find which letter that matches the sound I ask for.  It's just working on getting her to recognize or find the letters faster so she can start stringing them together in words.  I love how Montessori makes it so easy for them to read.  No complicated rules, just recognize and memorize the sound each letter makes, then off they go.  Beautiful!  I think she will start before she turns four in the summer, but that's entirely up to her.  She does love practical life activities, especially ones that involve snack.  Pouring milk (her favourite), cutting, peeling, whatever.  She is good about cleaning off the table too!  

Last night D and I watched the documentary Food Inc.  Scary stuff.  I sat with my crocheting the whole time just blown away.  I don't know if Canada is on the same level as the US in terms of how food is produced, but what a scary wake up call regardless.  If you've never seen it, you have to watch this film.  I was totally turned off meat.  And what good timing with Great Lent coming up soon...

Wishing you lots of snowy fun and good health this coming week!

24 January 2017

Space jam

I am crocheting right now as I sit with D, waiting for the yogurt to finish setting.  We generally still make our own yogurt - sometimes even with some raw milk, though usually without.  We go through a lot of yogurt.  If the kids aren't eating it as a snack, we are serving it as part of the meal.  Love yogurt.

So, I am crocheting hearts and stars for the kids out of various colours of yarn.  A little Valentine from mama.  :)  Nice to use up some leftover yarn too!  My stash is getting out of hand, at least for the space we have.  I have left yarn work for a long time because I just didn't have the desire.  But suddenly, just as inexplicably as she left, she was back, knocking at my door again, begging to start a cozy stripped afghan and bring a little joy to my babies.  So here I am with new projects tucked into little corners and nooks around the place.  :)

Forgot to add this photo from Christmas time last month.  Just too cute to pass up, so I posted it now!  

The weather this winter has been unseasonably warm so far.  Many many days above the freezing mark, no snow, lots of rain.  Very odd, at least for the Canadian winters I'm used to.  You'd like this would be incentive to take the little ones out more, but I am still guilty of not taking the kids as much as I feel I should.  Fresh air always makes me feel better, but at this particular time period, I am struggling to get at it!

We rearranged some of our furniture in the main living area of the condo to accommodate a much-needed workspace for the kids.  We have a small desk for the computer, but it's full of, well, the computer!  The kids, particularly the older two, are old enough to need a space to work on their work, on their projects, or just spread out without needing to clean up for a bit.  As you can see, even baby M has her own space now under that table.  :)  Anyhow, I have more plans for that table.  I think this is something I enjoy doing every so often, the rearranging part I mean.  I can't yet decide if it's just a nice change in scenery, or if it's a bid to optimize space.  Maybe a little of both?  

This is our dog.  ;)  He is the sweetest little feathered friend!  D has trained him to lie on his back and be groomed or "petted".  Actually, he LOVES being groomed around his head.  He'll fluff right out and just zone out.  Hilarious to watch.  Really does remind us of a dog in some ways.  Little Romanos has brought a lot of joy to our lives right along with the kids!  

Anyhow.  I'll finish here because I'm just having a hard time keeping my eyes open!  Past my bedtime I think.  Sweet dreams!  

13 January 2017

Post-holiday happenings

Our holidays don't seem to be as restful as we'd like.  It's just with a big family and many friends - all great blessings in our lives - there is a lot of entertaining and being entertained.  It is nice to catch up with old friends though, so I'll take it.

After the holidays were through, we settled into a more relaxed rhythm.  Everyone helping around the home, doing a little academic work together (mostly math and writing), and some excursions to round things out.  The kids did a lot of baking with me, including those cheese pies.  Come to think of it, I don't think I did much besides the prep work.  They pretty much put them together and I stuck trays into the oven.  Done.  It's actually a wonderful feeling to have helpers in the kitchen.  It's taken a few years of "training", lots of messes, plenty of patience and encouragement, but they seem to be well on their way to self-sufficiency in this area.  

 J is working on math now.  She is a playful monkey, so it's tough to stay on track usually.  I have to keep reminding myself that the work she's doing doesn't matter nearly as much as our time together and how we connect.  Not easy.  She is chugging along however and has mastered the collective exercises for addition.  We are working on carry-overs now.  She and Michael partner up for this, and I am the happiest mom watching them work together.  I think J likes it because we make a big deal whenever someone says "ten" as they count beads.  :)  

I have to say that most of our work is done in 10-15 minute increments.  It's very manageable.  In fact, many times the kids move on to a second round of work, or else they do a little extra,  I like that aspect immensely about Montessori.  It doesn't take much.  The trick is to do it as often as possible - if not daily then at least 2-3 times a week.  This repetition helps to cement concepts in a profound way.  I find that even if a child does not grasp every single aspect or angle of whatever the lesson is, they still understand the concept.  

This little munchkin is growing like a weed!  She is past one and walking.  Climbing is more like it.  She climbs everything.  We've had to be creative with this one, she just can't help it.  She loves to by a part of whatever's going on, which usually means getting up onto the dining room table, or climbing all over the sofas and side tables.  She's so happy and so full of zest as she goes exploring, we can't help but kiss those cheeks!  

When evening arrives, the best way to calm down rowdy kiddies is to read with them.  I was so glad when D captured this moment.  I don't think we have any recent shots of us reading together.  Here we are reading "The Quiet Little Woman" by L.M. Montgomery.  The kids love it, especially the older two.  

There is always work to be done in the kitchen.  As per usual.  I don't think we've been terribly creative on that front, but I have had more spurts of energy, so we have had less sandwiches and more hearty fare.  I am trying to stay away from cold cuts, which is difficult because a) it's convenient for lunches, and b) the kids love it.  I've made them steak sandwiches, pulled beef and turkey (from leftover turkey) that I've stashed in the freezer.  I think that's going to be my new system.  Once we have something like a roast or turkey, I will freeze a certain amount to use for lunch meat.  Finally got this down!  

I painted this icon years ago, but the gold starting peeling off thanks to a bad metal size I used.  (Of course!)  Thankfully, we found an experience iconographer to fix it.  I will never use that size again.  Yeesh.  Thankfully, all's well that ends well.  

So, I bring this little update to a close.  It's sounds an awful lot like a point by point rehash of bits of our days, but right now, that's all I've got.  Didn't want to keep postponing it.  Wishing you a great weekend!

31 December 2016

Sleepy and thankful

I'm sitting up awake and the house is quiet, not a creature stirring, not even a mouse!  :)  Couldn't resist throwing that line in there.  It is quite appropriate.  We had some dear friends over today.  What is it about true friends, real kindred spirits?  They transcend time and space in tangible ways.  Why, when we have been apart for so long, we just pick up right where we left off without any ado!  It's quite beautiful.  

My heart is soothed by sweet friends and family.  I think everyone should have some kindred spirit with which to share their love, their joys, their messy moments.

Anyhow, after a satisfying visit, I am sitting here just enjoying the quiet.  I should be up finishing the dishes and possibly sweeping the floor, but I just can't.  More accurately, I have decided to leave them all until tomorrow.  Blessed tomorrow will provide a bit of added energy and resolve to tackle the leftover work from today.  

We are planning a quiet New Year's together here at home.  Perhaps we will go tobogganing, or skating.  Then curl up with hot chocolate (and marshmellows if my kids have any say in the matter) and possibly talk, or play an impromptu game together.  

So I just looked at the time and it is much later than I imagined.  That's my cue to turn in.  Wishing you a wonderful start to 2017!  

13 December 2016

A few December traditions

Advent has begun a couple of weeks ago, but we are sluggish in our Christmas making.  This is my fault.  There is something about life nowadays that has me anxious to complete the daily work without any frills.  Survival mode of sorts.  Or perhaps it's just a prolonged and much-needed break - an unconscious need making itself heard.  Don't know.  I have grand plans, as always, but need that initial thrust to get started.

There are two hats I have finished, at long last, for my girls.  So thankful for that thrust of motivation, as it is getting colder outside.  Now I must dig deep to finish M's.

On a completely unrelated note, I have to mention just how much my kids love our Schleich figures.  We have built up our collection over the years and it is by far the "go to" toy in our home.  That and Lego.  :)  They really are so well made, I can't speak highly enough about them.  Our kids have been given several different brands in addition to the Schleich, but I have to say that the Schleich have held up best of all.  So.  If you are looking, it's a great gift for toddlers and older children too!

We had a lovely feast of St. Barbara on the 4th.  It is tradition to make special donuts dunked in an orange-blossom flavoured honey syrup.  Delicious.  Mine didn't turn out too well.  I mean they taste ok, but I don't seem to leave them in the syrup long enough for them to soak up a little of the moisture on the inside.  Ah well.  We still enjoyed them.

And St Nicholas visited the children on the 6th.  It is one of their favourite days.  He left some chocolate milk and money in each boot.  And that is more than enough to make their little faces glow with happiness!  They can barely go to sleep the night before and woe to us if we forget.  Actually, one year I forgot to put them in their shoes and they woke up and checked their shoes.  How disappointed they were.  Then, in a flash of inspiration I dropped the goodies into their snow boots and then suggested they check ALL their shoes.  Eventually they found them and the saying went out that St. Nicholas prefers boots.  This year they set their boots out to be sure.

I love thinking to think up small ways to create in them a real love for God and the saints.  That's kind of why we do it.  M has asked how does St. Nicholas know where we live and how does he come.  I tell him that sometimes St. Nicholas visits himself, and other times he sends someone in his stead.  I think he will understand soon that we are the ones that put the treats in their boots, but I don't think that will change anything for him.  St. Nicholas is a beloved saint to the children.

There are two weeks till the end of Advent.  If I don't have time to update this space before then, it is because I choose to retain my sanity, to enjoy each moment as it comes without thought for documenting its posterity.  Wishing you a white and wonderful journey!